Tuesday

25th Apr 2017

TTIP investor court illegal, say German judges

  • EU trade commissioner Malmstrom will hold the next round of talks in Brussels on 22 February (Photo: European Commission)

German judges dealt a blow to EU-US free trade agreement talks after declaring a proposed arbitration court illegal.

The European Commission last September proposed setting up an investment tribunal court that would allow firms to challenge government decisions as part of its larger Transatlantic Trade and Investment Partnership (TTIP).

Dear EUobserver reader

Subscribe now for unrestricted access to EUobserver.

Sign up for 30 days' free trial, no obligation. Full subscription only 15 € / month or 150 € / year.

  1. Unlimited access on desktop and mobile
  2. All premium articles, analysis, commentary and investigations
  3. EUobserver archives

EUobserver is the only independent news media covering EU affairs in Brussels and all 28 member states.

♡ We value your support.

If you already have an account click here to login.

Critics says the new court, which is intended to replace a much loathed investor-to-state dispute settlement (ISDS) system, will pressure governments into clawing back consumer protection rights and environmental standards in favour of corporate interest.

Earlier this week, the German Association of Magistrates, a Berlin-based judicial umbrella organisation, said it "sees neither a legal basis nor a need for such a court".

It says existing national courts are good enough and that efforts by the Commission to create a new court undermines jurisdictions across the Union.

"The German Magistrates Association sees no need for the establishment of a special court for investors," it states.

It says the new investor court would alter national court systems "and deprive courts of member states of their power."

The German magistrates also cast doubt on the independence of the judges in the new system as well as their appointment procedures.

Proponents, for their part, say the investment tribunal court is needed to both protect and attract foreign investment from potentially hostile governments or biased domestic courts.

'Democratic principles and public scrutiny'

The European Commission declined to comment but instead referred back to its previous stated positions.

EU trade commissioner Cecilia Malmstrom, who is heading the TTIP talks, last year said the new court would be "subject to democratic principles and public scrutiny".

The centre-right European People's Party and the centre-left Socialists & Democrats groups in the European Parliament spearheaded the new investor court last summer and backed the commission's proposal. Others, like the Greens, opposed the plan, noting businesses should not be allowed to file cases in private courts outside current legal systems.

The TTIP talks, which have been largely held in secret since 2013, aim to remove non-tariff barriers to trade.

The 12th round of talks will be held in Brussels on 22 February.

"We will only know closer to the date what topics will be discussed," said a commission spokesperson.

Eurogroup makes 'progress' on Greek deal

Eurozone ministers endorsed an agreement in principle between the Greek government and its creditors over a new package of reforms. But talks on fiscal targets and debt could still block a final agreement.

New anti-trust complaint looms over Microsoft

At least three security software companies “met several times” with the European Commission to complain about Microsoft’s alleged abuse of its market position. A formal case could follow.

Commission stops German-British stock merger

The decision to block the merger of the London Stock Exchange and Deutsche Boerse was expected, as negotiations between the parties broke down a few weeks ago.

New anti-trust complaint looms over Microsoft

At least three security software companies “met several times” with the European Commission to complain about Microsoft’s alleged abuse of its market position. A formal case could follow.

Investigation

MEPs oppose EU agency to prevent Dieselgate II

The European Parliament said on Tuesday that there should be more EU oversight on how cars are approved, but stopped short of calling for an independent EU agency.

News in Brief

  1. Hungary's Orban will participate in EU parliament debate
  2. Malta floats cash-for-refugees plan
  3. Ivanka Trump to meet Merkel at Berlin women's conference
  4. Arctic Ocean could be ice-free in 20 years
  5. Nord Stream 2 to get €4.8bn from European energy firms
  6. Defeated Fillon retires from French politics
  7. Hollande: Vote Macron to avoid 'risk' for France
  8. Italy misses deadline on air quality warning

Stakeholders' Highlights

  1. UNICEFRace Against Time to Save Millions of Lives in Yemen
  2. Nordic Council of MinistersDeveloping Independent Russian-Language Media in the Baltic Countries
  3. Swedish EnterprisesReform of the European Electricity Market: Lessons from the Nordics, Brussels 2 May
  4. Malta EU 2017Green Light Given for New EU Regulation to Bolster External Border Checks
  5. Counter BalanceCall for EU Commission to Withdraw Support of Trans-Adriatic Pipeline
  6. ACCAEconomic Confidence at Highest Since 2015
  7. European Federation of Allergy and Airways60%-90% of Your Life Is Spent Indoors. How Does Poor Indoor Air Quality Affect You?
  8. European Gaming and Betting AssociationCJEU Confirms Obligation for a Transparent Licensing Process
  9. Nordic Council of MinistersNordic Region and the US: A Time of Warlike Rhetoric and Militarisation?
  10. European Free AllianceEFA MEPs Vote in Favor of European Parliament's Brexit Mandate
  11. Mission of China to the EUXinhua Insight: China to Open up Like Never Before
  12. World VisionViolence Becomes New Normal for Syrian Children